Why you absolutely must call every candidate back after an interview

Hiring & Recruiting calling candidates back

A lot of us have bad habits. But when it comes to hiring managers and recruiters, there is one common habit that’s hurting them – and their companies – the most: not calling a candidate back after an interview.

It’s a scenario that plays out again and again: a candidate comes in for an interview, and at the end, the hiring manager says something along the lines of “we’ll let you know.” Then, they don’t. The vast majority of the time, if a candidate doesn’t get a job offer, they never hear from the hiring manger again.

How often does this happen?

In a Workopolis poll, job seekers who had recently gone through an interview process were asked how long it took the employer to respond after their last interview. 24 per cent heard back within a day, 17 per cent heard back in one or two weeks, 15 per cent heard back in over two weeks, and 43 per cent never heard back. That’s a lot.

When a candidate doesn’t hear back, they are left wondering what went wrong. They wonder when they should stop waiting for the call. They wonder if they missed it, and if they should call you. They waste an incredible amount of time and energy waiting and wondering when they’re going to hear back – meanwhile, the company has already made their hire and is knee-deep in onboarding.

Is it really that bad? (Yes, it is)

In case it’s not already clear, this treatment breeds one thing: contempt. By not calling candidates back, hiring managers are taking people who could be allies and turning them, one by one, into detractors of your brand.

When asked how they feel about not getting a call, one seeker said, “I take exception. ‘We’ve decided to keep looking’ is a courtesy. I’ve fought the impulse to show up a week after not being called and ask ‘Where’s my desk. Nobody told me I didn’t get the job.’”

“I never heard back after what I thought was a very promising interview with a company,” says another seeker. “Now I tell everyone not to apply there.”

As top talent becomes more and more scarce, a strong employer brand becomes a crucial component of a successful recruitment process. And if previous applicants are spreading the word that your company doesn’t treat applicants well – and that is what this is about – then you’re losing out on superstar employees.

What, exactly, do hiring managers need to do?

To avoid this flaw on your reputation, follow one simple step: let candidates know whether or not they got the job. Every time.

This doesn’t necessarily mean contacting every single individual that applies for a position (though this would be ideal, and not at all difficult with an automated email program or an applicant tracking system). What this does mean is contacting every candidate that makes it to the interview stage. It can be a one-minute phone call, or even a templated email – you don’t have to give cause or do a full debriefing, after all. You simply have to let them know that they can stop waiting for your call.

Want more hiring mistakes to avoid? Check out our SlideShare on the topic:

See also:
Eight interview mistakes hiring managers make
Hire right the first time: 3 mistakes to avoid

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a huge problem and happens way too often! I’ve now been waiting 3 weeks to hear back from a place I interviewed at. It went really well and they assured me that everyone would be called because “they know how it is to wait”.
    I took a vacation day to drive three hours in major traffic, trying to keep calm because I’d been planning for this interview for two weeks already at that point. I had two anxiety attacks that week from the pressure as my contract ends at the end of this month (which was stated in my cover letter).
    I’ve given up hoping I got the job.
    One email, one phone call, so I can shelf it and move on, is that too much to ask? Jeez.

  • Terry I says:

    I wouldn’t call, as that has the feel of “they’re calling me back to offer.” I would just email.

  • animeweng says:

    If you email, you run into other problems. People don’t read their emails or it goes to the junk folder. Then, they want to call back to find out why they never heard back from you even though you emailed them in the first place. The sooner you resolve the situation the better. A phone call in my experience is much better at closing the applicant’s case compare to an email. You end up getting a phone call one or two weeks later asking why haven’t I heard from you guys. You may end up wasting further energy and time.

    I have tried mailing and emailing. Phone is much better based on experience. I get fewer unhappy callbacks on why haven’t I heard from you. Instead, it is I got a callback and I didn’t read the voice mail that I was not offered the position. You are in a much better position by a phone call. There are exceptions such as angry aggressive interviewees. In those cases, you don’t want to call them.

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